Sikhs in the United States are launching a million-dollar awareness campaign that aims to stop hate-fueled attacks by explaining more about who they are and what they believe. The “We are Sikhs” campaign was years in the making, funded by Sikh leaders and their families across a dozen cities, who have been swept up in anti-Muslim sentiment since the Sept. 11 attacks. Their beards and turbans - symbols of equality in a religion that opposes India’s caste system - make American Sikhs easy targets for the angry and uninformed.

“Our hope was that as the memory of 9/11 goes down, things would get better. But they have not,” said Rajwant Singh, a dentist from suburban Washington and one of the campaign’s volunteer organizers.

The ads, which will air on CNN, Fox News and on TV stations in Fresno, California, home to a large Sikh community, make no mention of the more than 300 hate crimes reported by Sikhs in the U.S. since the 2001 terrorist attacks. Rather, they feature Sikh families explaining how the world’s fifth-largest religion, founded in India, aligns with American values. Internet advertising will begin immediately as well, and subsequent TV ads are planned for at least three more cities with large Sikh populations.

See also See also short edits; Proud, Neighbours and Who we are (Long edit).

Client: We Are Sikhs

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Dabitch Creative Director, CEO, hell-raising sweetheart and editor of Adland. Globetrotting Swede who has lived and worked in New York, London, San Francisco, Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Stockholm.

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